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June 27, 2016 Board of Zoning Appeals Minutes

Jim Maciejewski, PresidentTimothy Kuiper, Board Attorney
Ken Schneider, Vice-President 
Tom Ryan 
Paul Panczuk 
Jason Williams 


Mr. Maciejewski called to order the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals for June 27, 2016 at 7:00 p.m., and asked all to rise for the Pledge of Allegiance (recited and all took their seats).


Roll call was taken by Susan E. Wright, recording secretary. Members present: James Maciejewski, Ken Schneider, Tom Ryan and Jason Williams. Staff present: Mr. Timothy Kuiper, Board Attorney. Absent: Mr. Paul Panczuk.


Mr. Maciejewski stated that there are no minutes presented this evening. Ms. Wright stated that they have not been submitted yet.


A. 10210 Joliet Street (Mr. Jimmy Lopez) – Garage / Accessory Structure Variance

Mr. Maciejewski stated that this was an application for Garage / Accessory Structure. This is a continued public hearing from our May meeting. Petitioner is present, please step forward Mr. Lopez. Maybe run through what you have been working on. As I recall we had some questions for you last time about the building and the site plan.

Mr. Lopez approached the podium. Mr. Lopez stated that the board wanted the exact location on the property. We drew it out on there; did the measurements to the property lines to the existing location and I did get some blueprints done, which show the building size, the pitches and the type of things.

Mr. Maciejewski asked if the petitioner happened to measure the existing garage. Mr. Lopez advised that he did not, however it is a two-car attached garage. The house is only eleven hundred square feet, so it is a small house.

Mr. Williams inquired if the board could get him straight on what the code is; advising he had his notes from the last time, that this allows sixteen hundred-forty square feet, and wondered did that match their notes. Mr. Maciejewski stated that it looks like his notes have gone AWOL, so we will have to reconstruct it.

Mr. Williams advised that what he wrote down was that a one-acre parcel gets eleven hundred square feet, then the fact that the lot is very large that there is an additional five hundred forty square foot allowed. That is what he is showing in his notes; however, they are very sketchy.

Mr. Maciejewski stated that this seems in aligns with what we’ve written down, that it was 1640 s.f. Mr. Williams noted that includes the existing garage though and I thought we figured out the existing garage is somewhere around 700 s.f.

Mr. Ryan noted that the one that is being proposed is 1620 s.f., with dimensions of 30’ x 54’. Mr. Maciejewski asked if the proposed garage get larger from the last meeting.

Mr. Lopez stated that well no; however, like he said there were different configurations. A 40’ x 40’, or a 30’ x 54’, because he is just trying to keep it below the 1640 s.f. maximum.

Mr. Williams asked Mr. Maciejewski to verify the current town code of the roof height; basically the maximum to the peak. Mr. Maciejewski advised that it is 14’. Mr. Williams confirmed that the number was what he remembered from the first meeting.

Mr. Schneider noted that there were a couple of floor plans submitted where the building is the same size. However, one shows a 16’ x 8’ door on one side and a 10’ x 10’ door on the end wall. He further noted that there is another plan whereas it shows two 16’ x 8’ garage doors, one of the end wall and one on the side street.

Mr. Lopez advised that when he started doing this, they were going that the only way you are going to get a 10’ door is to change the pitch, so 2 out of the 3 show that. I would like one that will be a 10’ door. It must be taller so I can get and lift and put it in there. Plus, I also wanted to put my R.V. in there to put it away and so it would fit. Explained that he was running back-in-forth with the designers; working midnights, and then it was two long weeks to get things going. With the two (2) consultants that say that “well we can do it different”. That is when they came up with the temple roof, but it’s the same length and width; but they changed the trusses so then we are going to make different trusses, so then I don’t have to worry about the weight with the snow or anything.

Mr. Maciejewski stated that okay, so as far as the notes from Mr. Williams is correct; on Chapter 11, a residential garage is Section B. First off, the consideration of a detached garage has been here before us, to allow an additional detached garage. That’s item one (1), whether to allow a detached garage. Within that then; with the total square footage of all residential garages, whether attached or detached, shall not exceed 1,100 s.f. per residential lot or parcel. Then again, if you are over 30,000 s.f. on the lot, then you can get an additional 540 s.f., so that is where is 1640 s.f. is from. It is though supposed to be the total of both the attached and detached garages. Maximum height measured from existing grade to the roof peak of the structure is not to exceed 14’.

Mr. Williams inquired about the overhangs that were discussed at the earlier meeting, or wonder if that what no longer a part of the picture. Mr. Lopez stated that they were thinking about a 1’ or 2’ overhang, so they could put up gutters there, this is being done so that they could direct drainage water away from it.

Mr. Maciejewski noted that it seems to be 10’ 6” to the eave on a 4-12 pitch. So that is another 5’ or more accurately 5’6” right now. Mr. Maciejewski asked what the existing square footage. Mr. Williams thought it was around 600 s.f.

Mr. Ryan stated that he has 700 s.f. written down. We don’t have measurements, and we don’t know if this is correct or wrong, but that’s what was written down. Mr. Ryan further asked if this is in addition to the existing garage. Mr. Lopez answered that the exiting garage is attached.

Mr. Williams stated that he is not sure if this was made clear during the previous meeting, but the Town Code calls for the total square footage of all garages on the property not to exceed 1640 s.f. So what is being proposed right now at 1620 s.f. additional detached garage, then you are actually 700 s.f. “over” code because of your existing garage. Whatever your existing garage is, we’re assuming its around 700 s.f. Further asking to get a height variance. So right now we are 700 s.f. over on square feet, and looks like we’re 2’ over the grade to peak regulation. Looking at page 5 (as distributed to the board), it says that the grade to the peak is sixteen feet (16’). Asked if the board knows what the highest point of the house is. Mr. Lopez stated it was lower than that.

Mr. Williams further noted that the last time the board just had a sketch drawn down and you had it going kind of rotated so that most of it was to be obscured by the house, and is curious why is it now straight off the street.

Mr. Lopez advised yes, where it shows an extension in the driveway, he was going to attach a driveway to the existing driveway, so there is a clear shot to get back to it. Mr. Williams noted that from the street it probably is not that much different, it seems to be the same visibility from the street. Mr. Lopez stated it was a large lot with a lot of trees back there also.

Mr. Ryan stated that he wasn’t at the last meeting, but would like to ask what is the intended use of the garage, what are you going to do with it.

Mr. Lopez stated that he is a car enthusiast and I have toys that want to put in there. It would be like my hobby shop when I retire in a couple of years. I have a show truck, and two other show vehicles, and just bought a Camaro, so I like to buy stuff.

Mr. Williams again recalled from the last meeting that when you retire from your current job; that they explicitly forbid you from all-night maintenance, so you could not do commercial work in this facility. Mr. Lopez stated that he cannot do commercial work because he would lose his pension. He stated that if he wanted to work for some side-money, or to just pass the time then I guess I could be a used-car salesman. This garage will be a play area and I have friends who are drooling. We can put a projection television in there and watch the Bears games.

Mr. Maciejewski asked Mr. Lopez to clarify the 10’ x 10’ door that is going to face the street. Mr. Lopes said that one (1) would be on the one side, is basically just to get back through there and I thought that would be the perfect side for the lift to fit it, and I could put it way back in the corner. So when you are working you can open up the door and get a breeze and it would circulate, cause it’s too large to put air conditioning in. I don’t have the money for that.

Mr. Williams asked if during the construction if they will leave the three (3) trees in the vicinity. Mr. Lopez advised yes, it is a very deep lot and they are leaving the trees that are shown.

Discussion ensued amongst the board members as to a concrete slab and what the placement of the garage was going to be.

Mr. Schneider calculated approximately 200’ back and inquired if the neighbors are aware of what he is putting up. Mr. Lopez said yes, that he sent the required letters out to everyone on the list. At first they thought that St. John was going to place a road through there. That was their main concern. When I told them what I was putting they pretty much said “that’s all?”. They were happy that a road wasn’t going through there. Mr. Williams asked if he has personally spoken to the neighbor to the West since he would be the one most impacted. Yes, his name is Pat and he is all for it.

Mr. Schneider noted that it is still quite large, but they thought something else was going through.

Mr. Ryan asked if they were trying to get a match to the color of the house that is brick. Mr. Williams remembered that they did suggest a color match”. Mr. Lopez stated that it does not show on the drawings, but he wanted to get something closer to what the house looks like, somewhere like a “sandy color”.

Mr. Schneider asked if it was going to be two-toned with a wainscot, because otherwise it was just going to look like a pole barn.

Mr. Maciejewski called upon Mr. Timothy Kuiper, Board Attorney, that for the record to verify the notices of publication are still in order. Mr. Kuiper stated that everything was in order and it was properly continued at your last meeting for public hearing.

Mr. Maciejewski open the floor for Public Comment. Hearing none, he brought the matter back to the Board.

Mr. Maciejewski stated that it is the size he felt that was of issue and asked how he arrived at the size because it is considerably over what is allowed by ordinance.

Mr. Lopez said he looked on-line and read what was allowed and thought since I got 2.5 acres then I could get the 1640 s.f. So I thought I could get the 40’ x 40’. Mr. Maciejewski reminded Mr. Lopez that however he did not subtract off the existing garage which should have been done. Mr. Lopez advised that he didn’t read that part.

Mr. Maciejewski asked if this was reduced by some amount, would that still be usable to you. If we get closer to the square footage. Asked if there was a reason it has to be 1600 s.f. Mr. Lopez said it was just what he read and went from there. Mr. Williams stated that definitive measurements would have helped.

Mr. Lopez stated that the thing is, the house is deceiving how it is. It’s just a two-car garage and then like I said it has a thing on the side, the guy before had like a work-shop. But if you intended to finished it as part of the housing you could cause of the way it was built. The owner was a brick mason and the guy built it in 1957 and he built a sturdy home. He probably had plans to add on to the house there, and like I said I haven’t got to that point yet. I just bought the house last year and we re-modeled the whole thing, because this is our retirement home right here.

Mr. Maciejewski asked if the height was dictated by your lift, or how did he arrive at that height. He noted that the height of 14’ was in the same paragraph that he had read on-line and you should have known that the maximum was 14’; however, this is 16’ in height. Mr. Lopez thinks it’s because of the drawing with the narrow pitch, it gives me a more height, because then I will be able to put the lift in there.

Mr. Maciejewski asked about the height of the lift. Mr. Lopez said that its made to go up, and can go up to 12’, but you know will go to 12’, but you don’t have to necessarily raise it, cause its hydraulic. But, the post itself he thinks they are 10’.

Mr. Ryan inquired as to non-hydraulic or scissor jack lifts, then you wouldn’t need such a tall structure. Discussion ensued as to how much was needed, however, it was noted that the trusses would come across at 10’. Mr. Schneider stated more like 10’ 6”. Mr. Schneider also remembered that Mr. Lopez talked about storage of an R.V., so that a 10’ door would be needed as it was mentioned that it would not go through an 8’ door, as it is a full-size R.V.

Mr. Maciejewski said that he thinks he can come to terms with the height, but he did not know what he was putting in there that would require 1640 s.f., and that was the number you came up with. He asked Mr. Lopez if he did some sort of layout, where all his vehicles would fit in there. Mr. Lopez said he just guessed and asked for the 1640 s.f. because that is what he read was the largest. Mr. Maciejewski explained what is allowed as opposed to what is needed is the pertinent question. Mr. Lopez stated that I wanted whatever the max I can get.

Mr. Williams asked if what Mr. Lopez is saying, that dependent on your existing garage, that if you got the measurements and you can tell us exactly what is left for what the code allows would be sufficient. Mr. Lopez asked if he measures just where the cars park in there. Mr. Williams asked if maybe he could bring in pictures so that we know what you’re looking to be able to do here, because I sort of get it, but we needed to see it.

Mr. Lopez said the existing garage has a 16’ x 8’ door, and only two cars go in there, but off to the side, you come out of the house, through a mudroom, and then it just like a work space, he even had a petition wall.

Mr. Maciejewski announced for purposes of trying to arrive at something tonight, maybe come to some decision. Square off the 21.3’ x 22.8’, and say that is approximate for usable square footage for what the garage is. That would be only 485 s.f. That would get you down to 1155 s.f; divided by 30 to 38.5. So this is in the module of 9; so that a 30’ x 40’; so Form54 I think is what your drawing said.

Mr. Lopez said he made it narrow, so that way the trusses are less expensive. Mr. Maciejewski advised that if so we do a 30’ x 40’, we’re getting a little bit closer to the code. Mr. Williams asked if he was okay with the 16’ versus the 14’. So we don’t have to overthink the existing garage. If that all tolerable?

Mr. Schneider calculated that then you are within 45 s.f. of being within the ordinance.

Discussion ensued as to points to be made in the motion and the findings of fact for same. Mr. Kuiper advised that any motion should state that you have allowed an excess on what the code allows. Mr. Maciejewski repeated the points of the findings of fact in case a board member wished to make a motion for this Developmental / Technical Variance, please make part of your motion a Findings of Fact that the approval of this variance will or will not be injurious to the public health, safety, morals, comfort and general welfare of the community; that, the use and value of the area adjacent to the property included either will or will not be effected in a substantially adverse manner; and that the strict application of the terms of the zoning Ordinance either will or will not result in practical difficulties in the use of the property.

Mr. Williams made a motion for this detached garage at 10210 Joliet Street, referencing the Findings of Fact. The Board of Zoning Appeals, after diving due consideration to this matter, listed in Ordinance 433, as amended, and after having due consideration to I.C. 36-30-7-4.918.5, having paid reasonable regard to the Comprehensive Plan of the Town of St. John, does hereby make the following Findings of Facts for record.

1. Will not be injurious to public health, safety, morals, comfort, or general welfare of the community;

2. Use and value of the area adjacent to the property included in the variance will not be substantially adverse in manner.

3. That the strict application of the terms of the Zoning Ordinance will result in practical difficulties in the use of the property.

Accordingly, the Board of Zoning Appeals approves the Developmental / technical Variance as aforesaid on the conditions listed:

(A) Placement is drawn in Surveyor’s Location Report.

(B) No Commercial use in the external garage

(C) Maximum of Thirty Feet (30’) x Forty Feet (40’) area.

(D) Sixteen feet (16’) peak, from grade to peak of garage.

(E) Two-tone color that is to match the existing house.

(F) That there will be no outside storage of the garage.

Mr. Ryan seconded the motion. Mr. Maciejewski asked for any further discussion; hearing none he entertained a vote. Motion carried 4-0-1 absent.

[Discussion in the background as to the procedure for Mr. Lopez to apply for a building permit].

With no other business before the Board, Mr. Maciejewski adjourned the meeting.

(The meeting was adjourned at 7:49 p.m.)

Respectfully submitted,

Michelle L. Haluska, Recording Secretary pro-tem
St. John Board of Zoning Appeals